On June 26, Marylanders will head to the polls to vote in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Among the most contested races of interest to the Jewish community will be for governor, Baltimore County Executive, the House of Delegates, and the Baltimore City and County Councils.

With assistance from the Baltimore Jewish Council, the political arm of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Jmore identified and spoke with candidates in some of these races to help readers make informed choices when they vote in the primaries (as well as in the general election on Nov. 6).

We asked candidates five primary questions, designed to get beyond the talking points by identifying some of their core values. We hope this insider’s guide offers readers some insight and illumination into the hearts and minds of these candidates.

U.S. Senate

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democrat and senior senator from Maryland (Handout photo)

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democrat and senior senator from Maryland, is seeking re-election for the seat he has held since 2006. He sits on the Foreign Relations Committee.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

I fight most strongly for Maryland, its people and the issues they care about most.

If you achieve only one objective in your next term, what would that be?

I want to make higher education more affordable, helping more Marylanders — and individuals nationwide — achieve a college education without going into debt.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate? 

We must work on multiple fronts at once: protecting our children from gun violence that is occurring daily and in random acts nationwide; fighting the public health crisis of opioid addiction and abuse; shrinking the income and wealth gap that has decimated our middle class and made it harder for working families to make ends meet; protecting our elections from illegal and/or foreign interference.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations? 

I support public financing of campaigns and believe that the Citizens United case was both wrongly decided and is a fundamental assault on our democratic system. I joined in sponsoring legislation to mitigate its effect. I have always refused to accept donations from the National Rifle Association.

What would you like your political legacy to be? 

I am a legislator and a strong believer in the good that government can do to empower individuals and communities. I stand up for Maryland and democratic values, but also work hard to find common ground with my colleagues across the aisle so that we can get things done that have a positive impact on our constituents and the American people.

Also see:

House of Representatives 

Rep. John Sarbanes

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) is running for re-election as the U.S. representative for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District. (Handout photo)

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) is running for re-election as the U.S. representative for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, which he has represented since 2007. A Baltimore native, Sarbanes has been appointed to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he serves on the House Subcommittee on Health and the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

One of my top legislative priorities is to end the reign of big money in our political system that has corroded our institutions of democracy. It’s time to put government back in the hands of the public. That means promoting citizen-owned, grassroots-funded, people-driven campaigns.

If you only achieve one objective in your next term, what would that be?

To pass the Government By the People Act, a bold proposal that would allow Congress to once again reflect the will of the people — building a democracy of the many, not the money. It is backed by 160 House co-sponsors and an unprecedented coalition of over 50 national organizations and petition signatures from nearly half a million citizens across the country.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

American democracy is under assault. More than ever, the wealthy and well-connected are flooding our politics with big-money campaign contributions. Candidates — dependent on these contributions to run competitive campaigns — are caught up in a bad system. Instead of being able to spend their time talking to their constituents and representing their communities, candidates must court big donors. Too often, this also means that public policy suffers. As a result, the public’s trust in government is eroding.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

As the longest-running PAC-free member of Congress in the United States, I do not accept any financial support from PACs and haven’t for the past seven years.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

I am proud to have made constituent service my No. 1 priority. Traveling home to my district every evening allows me to do my job much better because I am in daily contact with the people I serve in Congress. I believe that being a good listener helps to guide my legislative efforts in Washington and has made me a better congressman. That is the kind of representation I hope to be known for and to continue to provide to the people of the 3rd District.

Also see: Jmore Exclusive: A Conversation with Rep. John Sarbanes

Gubernatorial 

Gov. Larry Hogan

Gov. Larry Hogan, Republican (Handout photo)

Gov. Larry Hogan is seeking re-election. He is only the second Republican governor in Maryland in almost the past 50 years.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?  

Our administration has protected taxpayers, restored fiscal responsibility and opened Maryland’s doors to increased economic opportunity. We passed four straight balanced budgets with no new taxes and provided $1.2 billion in tax, toll and fee relief. As a result, Maryland has gone from losing 100,000 jobs to gaining nearly 100,000 jobs. At the same time, we have provided record funding for K-12 education, fought to preserve the Chesapeake Bay and built roads, bridges and new public transit projects across the state.

If you achieve only one objective in your next term, what would that be?

Our administration will build on the work we have done over the past four years by expanding economic opportunity and job creation to all Marylanders. We will continue to hold the line on taxes, pass balanced budgets and make critical investments in education, transportation and environmental protection, all of which are vital to continued economic prosperity.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

I believe very strongly that every single child in Maryland deserves a world-class education regardless of what neighborhood they grow up in. Parents and students deserve to know that their schools will be first-class centers for learning and opportunity development. … This year, I proposed and supported the creation of an education “lockbox” for casino revenue that would increase education funding by $4.4 billion over the next 10 years, including an additional $1 billion for school construction. Critically, this proposal would have added $125 million in funding for school safety improvements, plus $50 million per year for mental health counselors, school safety officers, and other school safety efforts.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

My campaign, like my administration, rejects hate in all its forms. During my tenure as governor, I’ve consistently spoken out and taken action against hate groups of all kinds. In this year’s budget, I included $2 million in funding for security enhancements at Jewish and Muslim schools and child care centers that are perceived as at-risk for hate crimes. I’ve also taken a strong stand against the discriminatory [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement, signing an executive order that requires entities doing business with the state of Maryland to certify they will not boycott Israel during the length of the contract.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

I ran for governor because I wanted to make Maryland a better and more affordable place to live, work, raise a family and ultimately retire. During my first term in office, we have fought for pro-growth policies to ensure that every Marylander has the economic opportunity they deserve. The results speak for themselves — Maryland’s economy is strong and getting stronger, and after losing 100,000 jobs under the O’Malley administration, we have created nearly 100,000 jobs. Over the past four years, more Marylanders have been working and more Maryland businesses have been open than at any other time in our state’s history. … But without determined leadership and continued focus on these priorities, Maryland could easily reverse course. We have made too much progress to turn back now — we must continue truly changing Maryland for the better.

Also see:

Rushern L. Baker III

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III is a Democratic candidate for governor. (Handout photo)

Rushern L. Baker III is a Democratic candidate for governor. He is currently serving his second term as county executive of Prince George’s County.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?


As county executive, and president of the Community Teachers Institute, education has always been and will remain my top priority. Good public schools are a sign of a healthy community, by providing students opportunities to succeed and signaling to families and businesses that this is somewhere they should move to and invest in. As county executive, I increased school funding for higher teacher salaries; dual-enrollment programs; expanded universal pre-k and full-day kindergarten.

If you only achieve one objective in your term, what would that be?

My number one priority is to fully fund our school systems. Every child, no matter where you live, no matter what your zip code, deserves the opportunity to have a world-class education. There are places in Maryland where you can get the best education. But there are also places in Maryland where you can get the worst. That’s unacceptable.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

A lack of affordable and accessible transportation is one of the biggest challenges facing our electorate. As one of the most densely populated states in the country, Maryland needs leadership that values the principles of smart growth and makes strategic investments in mass transit infrastructure over road construction. If you want to bring jobs and economic development to Maryland, you start by investing in mass transit projects.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

The proudest “F” I ever received was from the NRA. I would not accept any financial or volunteer support from the NRA.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

When I first took over as County Executive, we were facing a $77 million dollar deficit, businesses wouldn’t even dream of moving to the County, there was no economic development or job growth, homicides were on the rise and we were leading the nation in foreclosures. I passed some of the toughest ethics laws in the state, reformed our police department, and revitalized forgotten neighborhoods to create safer communities and economic opportunities. Now, everything that should be going up is up, and everything that should be going down is down. … As governor, I’m going to do the same across the state. I want my legacy to be one of revitalizing communities, creating jobs across the state and building a Maryland that works for all of us.

Benjamin Jealous

Benjamin Jealous is a Democratic candidate for governor. (Handout photo)

Benjamin Jealous is a Democratic candidate for governor. A former president and CEO of the NAACP, he is a senior partner at Kapor Capital, which leverages the tech sector to create progressive social change.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

I believe that the government should always be working to eliminate barriers to opportunity, from establishing a fairer criminal justice system to seriously investing in educational opportunity for all. I was named Marylander of the Year because I led the effort to abolish the death penalty, ensured marriage equality, co-chaired the effort to pass the Maryland Dream Act and worked to expand voting rights. As governor, I’ll continue to fight for working families.

If you only achieve one objective in your term, what would that be?

Our schools used to be the best in the country, and now they’re sixth. When I’m governor, we’ll get back on top and we’ll do it by finally fully funding our schools. We know that our schools are underfunded by billions of dollars and that our educators are underpaid and overworked, all while lottery and casino revenues promised to education are used for other purposes. As governor, I’ll make sure that we fully fund our schools and properly equip our teachers so that all our kids succeed.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

The single greatest challenge facing the people of Maryland is the current lack of leadership willing to move us forward and offer comprehensive solutions, not half-measures that act as Band-Aids. … We don’t have a shortage of solutions here in Maryland, we have a deficit of leadership willing and able to make those solutions a reality.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

I’m proud that 99 percent of my donations come from individuals, that I have the lowest average contribution of any candidate and that I have more Maryland donors than any other candidate.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

This movement isn’t about me or my legacy, it’s about the working people of this state who want us to get back to solving their biggest problems.

Also see: At Rally, Sen. Bernie Sanders Endorses Benjamin Jealous for Gov.

Alec Ross

Alec Ross is a Democratic candidate for governor. (Handout photo)

Alec Ross is a Democratic candidate for governor. A Baltimore resident, Ross spent four years as senior advisor for innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He also served as a technology policy advisor to President Barack Obama during his first presidential campaign.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career? 

I have strongly fought for innovation in government that works for real people, while helping our society to face the future with confidence. Whether it was in leading the delivery of significant portions of the Economic Recovery Act in 2008 or using technology to solve some of the U.S.’s most pressing foreign policy challenges, I have always believed we must have strategic vision for bold solutions, while never losing sight of how people will be served by our policies.

If you only achieve one objective in your term, what would that be?

We must fundamentally reset how we fund education in our state, and that will be my No. 1 priority as governor. I came to Baltimore 24 years ago to be a public school teacher at Booker T. Washington Middle School on the Westside, and my wife continues to teach in our public schools. I believe we must do everything we can to implement new programs and funding models that allow us to take bold steps to improve our education system. Education is the starting point for addressing nearly every societal need, and for that reason, we must prioritize equitable, innovative educational programs for our children.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

I believe that the single greatest challenge facing our state, as well as the country, is how we prepare ourselves and our children for a rapidly changing world where new technologies and advances are emerging every day. Many people see the changes in our economy and world and are scared that they won’t be able to keep up. This is a legitimate fear, but I believe that the role of government and our country’s leaders is to make sure we are marshaling and directing our resources correctly so that our citizens are prepared and have the tools they need to compete and succeed in the years to come.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

We do not accept support for our campaign from any individuals or groups that have any record of discrimination based on race, gender, ethnic identity or religion. We also will not accept — and will return contributions, if need be — any support from any person connected to allegations of sexual harassment or abuse.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

I would hope that my political legacy is one centered on the values of innovation, inclusion and progressive values. These values have guided my career and they are now guiding this run for governor.

Also see: Q&A with Gubernatorial Candidate Alec Ross

State Senate – 11th District

Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin

Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin (D-11th) is a 20-year General Assembly veteran. (Photo by Jim Burger)

Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin (D-11th) is a 20-year General Assembly veteran and chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. He is running for re-election.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

The following is a brief list of some of those achievements: stronger laws against drunk driving, domestic violence and human trafficking; expanded definition of protective orders; cyberbullying; deterring offshore oil drilling; clean energy; marriage equality; reasonable gun safety measures; medical marijuana; Justice Reinvestment Act; transferring the Rosewood property to Stevenson University; Baltimore County Hybrid School Board; major crime package focused on repeat violent offenders; Thornton Commission education funding; strong regulation on lead content in children’s toys; stronger child abuse laws; and banning fracking.

If you achieve only one objective in your next term, what would that be?

I intend to continue to focus on public safety. With 343 homicides in Baltimore in 2017 alone, we must remain vigilant. I chair the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which has overseen major criminal law reform. We will continue those efforts. Further, I will fight for comprehensive cyberbullying legislation to protect our children from online threats and predators. And we will continue to strengthen laws to protect victims of domestic violence and drunk driving.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

The explosion of technology represents both opportunity and challenge, allowing for growth in openness and accountability but also to increasing polarization, lack of civility and threats to public safety. Technology has brought incredible educational opportunities, but also serves as a platform to harass and bully and for predators and others who wish to do harm. Changing technologies bring ever-changing threats such as those posed to children with online bullying. The challenge of our generation is responding to these threats, drawing lines of freedoms versus security, promoting civility, and ensuring that the tremendous value of technology is not overtaken by the public safety threats it poses.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

I have relied on incredible grassroots support from our community. I have had incredible campaign teams, often run by students who have brought new ideas and enthusiasm to each campaign. I am proud that in this time of negative campaigning and polarization that we run on issues and ideas and bringing people together. I have been fortunate to run with great teammates, and this year I am proudly running with Team 11 members Delegates [Dana M.] Stein and [Shelly L.] Hettleman.

What would you like your legacy to be?

I hope my legacy is a hard-working, nonpartisan policy wonk who truly cares about the community and finding solutions to tough challenges. I further hope I’m thought of as a public servant who helped educate and inspire the younger generation on the value of public service and being a positive influence.

Also see:

Sheldon H. Laskin

Sheldon H. Laskin is a candidate for the State Senate for the 11th District. (Handout photo)

Sheldon H. Laskin is a candidate for the State Senate for the 11th District. A Democrat and Pikesville resident, he is a litigator and activist, tax law professor and former assistant attorney general. He serves as treasurer for Baltimore County’s Progressive Democrats Club and works with Jews United for Justice. 

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

Throughout my legal career, I advocated for individuals who lack political or economic power. I represented migrant farm workers and other workers, including in the Supreme Court. I also represented the public interest as an assistant attorney general for the Maryland comptroller. I testified against a Baltimore County bill that would have authorized law enforcement to hold innocent undocumented immigrants to be held by [the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. Most recently, I worked for a national organization to make state tax laws simpler and more uniform among the states.

If you only achieve one objective in your term, what would that be?

My objective would be to reduce the focus on mass incarceration to fight crime. It has been proven that incarceration does not increase public safety, is extremely expensive and decimates inner city neighborhoods, which further increases crime. We need to fully fund rehabilitation services and work to reintegrate offenders into their communities as soon as safely possible rather than warehousing them as long as the law allows.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

A political system that is more responsive to the special interests that fund political campaigns than it is to the average voter who cannot afford to make such large contributions. We need to get the influence of big money out of politics or we are in danger of losing democracy as the voice of the average person is drowned out by the “voice” of big money.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

I will not accept money from the NRA, real estate developers or the bail bonds industry.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

That I worked hard to advance social and economic justice on behalf of the average person.

Also see: General Assembly Must Adopt Effective Smart-On-Crime Programs

Baltimore County Executive

Vicki Almond

Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki L. Almond (D-2nd) is a candidate for Baltimore County executive. (Handout photo)

Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki L. Almond (D-2nd) is a candidate for Baltimore County executive. She has worked in and for the community for three decades, including as chair of the Citizens Advisory Board, the Rosewood Center and chief of staff to State Senator Robert A. Zirkin. She also has chaired the Baltimore County Council.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career? 

I have spent my entire life fighting to protect Baltimore County children. As a mother, grandmother, PTA president, professional, councilwoman, chairwoman and as the next Baltimore County executive, I will expand on these efforts. I will work to implement universal pre-K, I will tackle the opioid epidemic head-on and I will expand our school resource officer program. Protecting children is always my No. 1 priority.

If you only achieve one objective in your term, what would that be?

Creating opportunity for all Baltimore County residents. We need quality economic development and smart growth in order to sustain high-paying jobs. We must make sure our students graduate high school college-ready, but we also must give them options — including vocational and technical training schools. And finally, our seniors must have the opportunity to be connected to the community and to age in place. As county executive, my overall objective is to meet residents where they are and give them the opportunity to thrive.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

The single greatest challenge facing the Baltimore County electorate is education. During my time on the Baltimore County Council, I am proud that we have invested over $1.3 billion in capital improvements to our schools and have passed record funding for Baltimore County Public Schools — but we can do even more. As county executive, I will reduce our class sizes by adding classrooms, and teachers, and I will put more support staff in our schools.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

As a candidate for county executive, my campaign accepts contributions of all sizes from all different types of people and businesses. However, organizations that potentially inhibit public safety have no place making contributions. Lobby organizations such as the NRA have not and will not contribute financially or otherwise to my campaign.

What would you like your political legacy to be? 

I strongly believe communities are the backbone of Baltimore County, and in order to have strong, stable communities we must have great public schools, safe neighborhoods, and economic development. Foundry Row is a great example of what can be if a leader stands up for what he or she believes in, in order to bring change to an area. That’s exactly what I did when I led the effort to bring Foundry Row to the old, abandoned factory in Owings Mills. It is my hope that my political legacy will be the work I have done to strengthen and revitalize Baltimore County’s communities.

Sen. James Brochin

Sen. James Brochin (D-42nd) is a candidate for Baltimore County executive. (Handout photo)

Sen. James Brochin (D-42nd) is a candidate for Baltimore County executive. He is a Baltimore County native who was first elected to the State Senate in 2002. 

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

I first introduced prior bad acts legislation 14 years ago. This legislation allows prosecutors to use suspects’ previous past predatory behavior as evidence in trying sexual assault cases. After working tirelessly, educating and building consensus, the bill passed in the 2018 legislative session. I am proud to have fought for this long-overdue reform.

I have a 100 percent voting record in support of women’s reproductive rights. I have fought against encroachments to these rights; in particular I successfully fought against stopping the right wing of the Republican Party from adding budget language that would have stripped Medicaid funding for abortions.

If you achieve only one objective in your term, what would that be?

I will end pay-to-play politics in Baltimore County. Currently, there are two sets of rules: one for developers and another for everyone else. In zoning decisions, my administration will prioritize projects based on environmental sensitivity and quality of life improvements for its residents.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

Providing strong educational opportunities for our youth. I am committed to rebuilding and renovating our aging schools and funding sufficient teaching and staff positions. I will encourage the expansion of community schools that help our most vulnerable students and families.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

Yes. Since 2013, I have refused money from any pro-gun organizations, in particular the NRA. For me, the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary brought to the forefront the need for sensible gun legislation in Maryland.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

Over the past 16 years in the Senate, I have been a champion on women’s issues; everything from prior bad acts to supporting women’s reproductive rights. In addition, I was one of the leading environmental advocates in the Senate. … As county executive, I will adhere to the same principles of independence and transparency that have been a hallmark of my time in Annapolis. I would like my legacy to be one of independence and transparency.

Also see: Sen. Brochin Officially Launches Bid for Baltimore County Executive

 

John A. Olszewski Jr.

John A. Olszewski Jr. is a Democratic candidate for Baltimore County executive. (Handout photo)

John A. Olszewski Jr. is a Democratic candidate for Baltimore County executive.  He served two terms in the House of Delegates representing District 6 in Baltimore County, and was chair of the Baltimore County delegation. 

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

I’ve always been a champion for working families. As a state delegate, I introduced earned sick leave because working families shouldn’t have to choose between their health, their family and their job. Higher wages have been another priority. In two terms as delegate, I consistently supported higher minimum wages. Now, I’m continuing that fight as an advocate for a $15 per hour minimum wage. I’ve fought against discrimination throughout my career. I have always supported ending housing discrimination. I voted for marriage equality.

If you only achieve one objective in your term, what would that be?

My top objective is to improve Baltimore County schools and ensure that ours is a world-class educational system. By committing to a 10-year, $2 billion infrastructure plan, we’ll give every family a school they can be proud of — starting with new schools for Towson, Dulaney and Lansdowne. When it comes to personnel, we’ll hire more teachers, social workers and counselors so we can reduce class sizes and caseloads.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

Equitable access to a quality public education is our greatest challenge.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

I have always and will continue to reject any support from the gun lobby, hate groups and violent criminals.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

My legacy will be a world-class public education system. An Olszewski administration will leave behind a school system every student, parent and teacher can be proud of.

Baltimore County Council – 2nd District

Israel C. “Izzy” Patoka

Israel C. “Izzy” Patoka is a Democratic candidate for the Baltimore County Council’s 2nd District. (Handout photo)

Israel C. “Izzy” Patoka is a Democratic candidate for the Baltimore County Council’s 2nd District. Patoka is a Baltimore native and director of community development for LifeBridge Health. A policymaker in city and state political circles for three decades, he served as executive director of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Office of Community Initiatives.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

I’ve spent my entire lifetime working to strengthen, improve and protect communities. I enjoy going to community meetings, and I have attended thousands of them throughout my career. Attending community meetings is the best way to gauge community sentiment. I always fight for relentless follow-up on constituent services.

If you achieve only one objective in your term, what would that be?

Public safety is my No. 1 priority. I have knocked on more than 8,000 doors of 2nd District residents, and overwhelmingly, the concern for a safe 2nd District is the primary topic of discussion. I will work with all law enforcement entities and leadership from neighboring jurisdictions to drive down crime, because crime must be driven down.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

Development needs to be done right with respect to the environment, with respect to the community and with respect to Main Streets and small businesses. We have an Urban-Rural Demarcation Line. Inside the URDL is higher density development. Outside the URDL is much lower density. So the idea is to have growth where you plan to have growth. I will hold that line where it is and work to revitalize Pikesville and Reisterstown.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

The current Planning Board routinely bullies the professional planners to benefit only a few stakeholders with little respect to the community, to the environment and to small businesses. I will not accept assistance from current Planning Board members who engage in this behavior and the select few of their unofficial clients for whom they act as an “agent” rather than considering what is best for Baltimore County, especially in the 2nd District.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

I will be vigilant in my pursuit for a safe 2nd District, where we have strong vitality in the Pikesville and Reisterstown commercial areas. I will work to create more green space and recreation resources to address the growing needs of the Greater Pikesville Recreation Council and the Reisterstown Recreation Council. I also will work with the 2nd District’s first elected school board member to have our schools be the best in the state.

Also see: Veteran Policymaker Izzy Patoka Running for County Council

Rick Yaffe

Rick Yaffe is a Democratic candidate for the Baltimore County Council’s 2nd District. (Handout photo)

Rick Yaffe is a Democratic candidate for the Baltimore County Council’s 2nd District. He is a critical care paramedic and a managing member of Butler Medical Transport. 

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

Public safety is an area in which I have worked hard for the last 25 years. Studies show that students learn best when they feel safe and secure at school. Seniors want a secure environment in their own homes where they can feel safe and protected.

If you achieve only one objective in your term, what would that be?

Over the last decade, I have fought against inequality and lack of opportunity for disenfranchised youth. Children with special needs don’t get to vote. Schools have thousands of children with no home address. I serve on the board of trustees of the Community College of Baltimore County. I have worked hard on the College Promise program — affordable college or trade education for a promising future for all of our youth.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

The single greatest challenge to our electorate is politicians who align themselves with extremes on either end of the political spectrum without regard to local needs. I am a moderate, pursuing issues important to individuals of all political persuasions. All politics are local: better schools, roads, recreation and parks, the environment and senior services are critical to each of us regardless of politics.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

I believe all people need to be represented. I appreciate the support of different interests. A campaign takes a lot of financial contributions, but integrity to me means that dollars don’t affect my vote. I pride myself on integrity in vote and leadership.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

I am known as someone who sees a problem and goes after a solution. I would like my legacy to be that during my decades in public service not only did I help those less fortunate in our community, but by being responsive, respectful and helpful to our residents, I helped Pikesville, Owings Mills and Reisterstown thrive.

House of Delegates – 11th District

Amy Blank

Amy Blank is a candidate for the House of Delegates’ 11th District.  (Handout photo)

Amy Blank is a candidate for the House of Delegates’ 11th District.  A Democrat and Owings Mills resident, she has served as director of government relations for the Baltimore Jewish Council and public and government relations coordinator at Planned Parenthood of Maryland.  

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

For my brother Danny and individuals with developmental disabilities, I fought for independent living and supportive employment. For women worldwide, I fought for reproductive rights and access to service. For children and families, I fought for educational opportunities and economic security. And for same-sex couples, I fought for marriage equality. I fought against racism, sexism, poverty and religious, cultural and governmental opposition to garner these freedoms.

If you achieve only one objective in your term, what would that be?

Every student everywhere deserves an educational experience that unfolds their unique potential and inspires personal passions and growth. I will advocate for elementary school teachers to have the freedom and resources to teach to different learning styles. In middle school, we must make the learning applicable and relatable to their realities. And finally regarding high school, students that are not college-bound need to visualize a future career through entrepreneurial/apprenticeship programs, vocational training, as well as police/fire academies, which should all be embedded into high schools’ curriculum so graduates can seamlessly transition into living wage careers.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

We are not a monolithic electorate. … However, the single greatest threat to our electorate is President Trump, who is poised to undo years of progress and hard-fought legislation.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

I will not accept financial or volunteer support from individuals or groups whose views and opinions differ on issues of concern to me or the constituents of District 11.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

The legacy I wish to leave behind is not about what I did but what we did to create the change we wanted to see in the world.

Also see: Amy Blank to Announce Candidacy for House of Delegates for 11th District

Jon Cardin

Jon S. Cardin is a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates’ 11th District. (Handout photo)

Jon S. Cardin is a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates’ 11th District.  He served in that role from 2003 to 2014.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

I was lead sponsor of Grace’s Law and revenge porn criminalization in 2014, as well as state recycling requirements, green buildings regulations, pro-choice rights and gun control. … As an innovative and legal-minded three-term legislator and government affairs consultant, my record and leadership positions are clear.

If you only achieve one objective in your term, what would that be?

Create a formula to provide full funding of the Developmental Disabilities Disability Administration, the agency that helps the most vulnerable among us. For years, I fought, won and lost political battles over this funding, and it is a war worth fighting again.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate? 

Ensuring the future of free, fair and safe elections. As the former chair of the Election Law Subcommittee and a fairly well-versed student of election law policy, I worry that the essence of our democracy is under threat and needs to be protected and celebrated, not demeaned and mettled with.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations? 

I have not and will not accept help from the NRA.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

I fought to make our community a place where parents don’t have to worry about their children coming home safe, healthy and happy after a long, meaningful day of school or work. I brought civility and respect to politics and made sure no one felt threatened or bullied, but rather everyone’s voice was heard.

Del. Shelly L. Hettleman

Del. Shelly L. Hettleman (D-11th) became a member of the House of Delegates in 2015.  (Handout photo)

Del. Shelly L. Hettleman (D-11th) became a member of the House of Delegates in 2015.  She has served on the board of directors of Baltimore Jewish Council and Chizuk Amuno Congregation. 

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

I have fought for social, economic and criminal justice reform throughout much of my career, not just my political career. I have an opportunity to address the needs of those who do not regularly have a voice, like abused women, the homeless, low-income workers and crime survivors, and have been able to pass legislation to address some of their needs.

If you only achieve one objective in your next term, what would that be?

Working families at the lower end of the wage scale continue to struggle. I hope to reintroduce a bill that I introduced this past legislative session to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2023. The last increase in the minimum wage set in place a scheduled increase over a four-year period that will reach its $10.10 goal this July 1. A minimum wage increase would go a long way to help over 570,000 Marylanders, nearly two-thirds of whom are working full-time.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

The 11th District has an aging community. It’s wonderful that we have stable, thriving neighborhoods, and that older adults want to age in place. But we must make sure we are adequately addressing the challenges this aging community faces: access to affordable health care, social isolation, physical changes required in living spaces and transportation.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

I would not knowingly accept contributions or volunteer assistance from any group that has views or an agenda I do not support.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

I hope to leave a legacy of having been an open, accessible, transparent legislator who was successful at making government work better to address the needs of my constituents. I want our government system to work equally well for each of our citizens, regardless of their race, age, religion or economic status. I want children in our community to grow up having the opportunity to be educated in a world-class school and trained to be able to participate in our economy so that they can support themselves and their families.

Dana Stein

Del. Dana M. Stein (D-11th) has served in the House of Representatives since 2007. (Handout photo)

Del. Dana M. Stein (D-11th) has served in the House of Representatives since 2007. He is the founder and director of the nonprofit Civic Works, which strengthens Baltimore’s communities through education, skills development, and community service.  

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

I have fought most strongly for ensuring that our children inherit a clean environment —one in which the state’s waters, especially the Chesapeake Bay, are protected, and in which our air is as free of pollution as possible. I have fought against practices that take advantage of consumers and vulnerable adults, such as financial scams and abusive practices that target vulnerable adults, the elderly and students.

If you only achieve one objective in your next term, what would that be?

The most important goal for the next legislative term is to enact the recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education [the Kirwan Commission]. The preliminary recommendations are in five areas: improving early childhood education, increasing the quality of teachers, developing more pathways for both college and career readiness, providing more resources for at-risk students and ensuring more effective governance and accountability standards in our school systems. These recommendations will increase the quality of education in Maryland and improve the readiness of graduates for college and for career opportunities.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

The increase in premiums for health care and long-term insurance. In both cases, premiums have increased substantially in recent years, to the point that long-term care and health plans on the individual health care market are not affordable for the middle class. Medicare premiums and co-pays must also be kept affordable.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

I won’t accept any support from the National Rifle Association (though, the NRA would be unlikely to support me).

What would you like your political legacy to be?

I’d like my political legacy to be viewed as a public servant who was a strong advocate for the needs of his constituents and of the communities in my district. My top responsibility as a legislator is to respond to the concerns of residents, whether those are related to education, transportation, health care or other issues – and to help cut through the red tape of government.

House of Delegates – 41st District

Del. Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg

Del. Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg (D-41st) is running for re-election to the House of Delegates. (Handout photo)

Del. Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg (D-41st) is running for re-election to the House of Delegates. A Baltimore native, he has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1983. 

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

I fought for a comprehensive bill to reduce the risk of lead poisoning. It was signed in the last year of Gov. William Donald Schaefer’s time in office; it was the culmination of an extensive consensus process. I have also fought against those who would restrict a woman’s right to choose.

If you only achieve one objective in your next term, what would that be?

Creating a 21st-century Pimlico Race Course, with contiguous economic and community development with LifeBridge Health and others that would benefit the track’s neighbors and the Baltimore region.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate?

Finding the best school for their children. My city delegation colleagues and I attained major construction funding under the 21st Century Schools Program. Going forward, funding the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations would enable us to meet our constitutional obligation of a “thorough and efficient” public school education for all children. Charter schools should continue to be held accountable for the student outcomes they are committed to. I also support the programs that provide for the needs of children in parochial and private schools.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

I am not refusing to accept checks. The votes I cast are in the best interests of my constituents, not because I have received financial or volunteer support from an individual, group or organization.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

Repealing the death penalty is the most profound thing I will ever do. I worked effectively for every neighborhood in the district.

Dalya Attar

Dalya Attar is a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates’ 41st District. (Photo courtesy of Dalya Attar)

Dalya Attar is a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates’ 41st District.  She is a Baltimore native who lives in Park Heights. A lawyer who graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law, she serves as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore.

What have you fought most strongly for and against in your political career?

My fight for new leadership is not mine alone, but rather for the entire district — for greater economic and educational opportunities, more funding for our priorities, combating crime and opioids, and a stronger future for Baltimore. I’m running against sitting delegates who have been part of the Baltimore political machine that has failed us for years.

If you achieve only one objective in your term, what would that be?

My main objective is to give people the ability to believe in government again, to instill in them hope that we can make Baltimore a city we can be proud to live in. My path to this objective will be the votes for or against legislation, sponsorship of bills, speaking out in favor of or against specific legislation and providing strong constituent service.

What is the single greatest challenge facing your electorate? 

The greatest challenge to the electorate is throwing off the yoke of complacency, getting to the polls, and voting for new leadership with the understanding that we can get more; we must get more.

Are you refusing to accept financial or volunteer support from any individuals, groups or organizations?

The issue has not come up — as a first-time candidate, I am still learning the ropes of fundraising. I would not take support from groups whose principles I am against.

What would you like your political legacy to be?

That I maintained the highest ethical standards, fought the hardest I could for the things my constituents needed, and served my constituents well.

Also see: Jmore Exclusive: Orthodox Lawyer Runs for House of Delegates

Baltimore County Circuit Court, 3rd Judicial Circuit

Incumbents

Judge C. Carey Deeley Jr.

Judge Michael J. Finifter

Judge Ruth A. Jakubowski

Judge Dennis M. Robinson Jr.

Challenger

Judge Robert A. Cohen, Military Judge (USAR), United States Army Trial Judiciary.

In Memoriam

Kevin Kamenetz

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (handout photo)

Kevin B. Kamenetz served as Baltimore County executive from 2010 to his sudden passing on May 10, 2018, at age 60. He was among the leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates. A lifelong Baltimore County resident, the two-time county executive served as a 2nd District Baltimore County Councilman for four terms.

When asked in early May by Jmore about his political legacy, Kamenetz responded, “We invested an unpreceded $1.3 billion to build or rebuild 90 schools, taking kids out of trailers and into modern learning facilities. We made record investments to protect our environment and fight climate change. And we created jobs, all without ever raising the tax rates. As governor, my goal is to make decisions that will not only allow our children to share in the lifestyle that we may have received, but to make Maryland even better for the next generation.”

Peter Arnold is an Olney, Md.-based freelance writer.